Helpers on the Road and Hinderers

Keely and His Discoveries, Chapter VIII - 1888


Blindfolded and alone we stand,
With unknown thresholds on each hand:
The Darkness deepens as we grope,
Afraid to fear, afraid to hope.
Yet this one thing we learn to know
Each day more surely as we go:
That doors are opened, ways are made,
Burdens are lifted, or are laid
By some great law unseen and still
Unfathomed purpose to fulfil.
"Not as I will."

The next "helper on the road" was an Austrian nobleman, the Chevalier Griez de Ronse, who printed a series of papers on Keely's discoveries in a journal in Vienna then owned by him - The Vienna Weekly News. One of these articles mentions that the attention of Englishmen of science had been drawn to Keely's claims, in regard to having imprisoned the ether, by Professor Henri Hertz's experiments in ether vibrations at the Bonn University. "Keely, like the late Dr. Schuster," says The Vienna Weekly News, claims on behalf of science the right to prosecute its investigations until a mechanical explanation of all things is attained. The public are still but the children of those who murdered Socrates, tolerated the persecution of Galileo, and deserted Columbus. This remark is now illustrated by the imprisonment with felons last month of Inventor Keely in Moyamensing Prison, Philadelphia, where Judge Finletter committed him for contempt of court, without the shadow of an excuse in the opinions of men who had followed the proceedings against him. [See Was Keely Imprisoned for stock fraud]

Under the reading, "Keely's Sunday in Jail," says a Philadelphia journal, Inventor Keely spent a quiet Sunday in Moyamensing Prison. The outside iron doors of his cell were thrown open, when the religious services of the morning began. The imprisoned inventor listened with deep interest. The soft peals of the organ and the melody of the choir, singing "Nearer, my God, to Thee," floated into the narrow cell. Keely sat near the grated door while the minister read selections from the Scriptures and preached his sermon. While the inventor was resting in his cell, during the afternoon, a number of persons made inquiries at the "Untried Department." They were all told that no one could be admitted on Sunday, but a young man with a pallid face lingered. He told the gate-keeper that he was an inventor himself, and had been waiting for eight years for a patent from Washington; adding that, when he read of Keely's commitment, he was reminded of Galileo who was thrown in a dungeon because he said, "The world moves."

The following day Keely was released by order of the Judges of the Supreme Court. He imprisonment exalted him, instead of degrading him as "the unjust judge" hoped to do; drawing the sympathetic to him of all men who know what it is to be "persecuted for righteousness' sake;" of all men, in all parts of the world, who are truth-loving, justice-loving men.

The Keely Motor Company should learn a lesson in this experience. Tyndall said, long since, that the community that severs itself from great discoveries, that merely runs after the practical application without reference to the sources of a discovery, would by-and-by find itself at the end of its tether. This has been verified in the fate of the Keely Motor Company, which was organized for the purpose of reaping financial benefit from Keely's grand discovery of an unknown force before his "work of evolution," in obtaining mechanical results, had fairly commenced. This company has thrown upon the discoverer's shoulders the burden of its stock-jobbing operations, until Keely is looked upon by men of science, as well as by men ignorant of the A B C of science, as a man working for personal ends; instead of, as he should be regarded, a Prometheus seeking to give to his fellow-men a costless motive force; and who, whether he succeeds financially or not, is entitled to the admiration of all who believe, with Browning, that "effort, not success, makes man great." If the Keely Motor Company managers would profit by this lesson, they will in future seek to find, among scientific men of world-wide renown, some one man, broad enough in mind to care nothing for the ridicule of the ignorant, who will investigate the nature of Keely's discoveries, as demonstrated by his experiments, instead of inviting reporters to witness the demonstration, in their efforts "to boom the stock" of their company, by a reporter's accounts of the marvels he has witnessed. For years Keely had nothing to show, beyond the generation of the force, the production of a 30 lb. vacuum and the discharge of a gun. When once his giant mind had grasped the knowledge, which again by seeming change was imparted to him, he made colossal strides across that unknown tract, the boundaries of which others are now but beginning to explore. Colonel Le Mat was no false prophet, Le Figaro was no untrustworthy herald, when the announcement was made by this French inventor to Monsieur Chevreul, and by this French journal to the public on the 1st day of September, 1888, that the chain which holds the aerial ship to the earth would be broken asunder by Keely's discovery. The nineteenth century holds in its strong arms the pledge, that sooner or later the aerial navy, so long waited for, will traverse the trackless high roads of space from Continent to Continent.

It has been supposed by many, Dr. Franz Hartmann among the number, that it requires Keely himself, or another person constituted like him, to set his machinery in motion. Therefore, it has been reasoned that the commercial success of an engine is only possible in case Keely is himself the engineer; or if another man possessing the same seemingly abnormal power could be the engineer. For this reason, says Dr. Hartmann, it is impossible for Keely to instruct any one in his method, so as to enable that one to do what he does. There has been ground in the past for such a statement, it is true, but not now. Keely asserts that when his system is completed, the knowledge of all that is needed for its commercial employment will be more easily acquired than is the necessary skill demanded to enable one to safely operate a steam-engine. When Dr. Hartmann's opinion was made known to Keely, he replied, "Dr. Hartmann's whole conception, in regard to other men being unable to control the operations of my inventions on the sympathetic attractive system, is as incorrect as would be the same conception in reference to operating an electric battery by anyone but its inventor."

Let anyone imagine the years on years of research that would have been necessary before Gilbert (who, after Thales, discovered electricity) could have perfected a system which would have enabled men to accomplish all that is accomplished in our age, with electricity as a motive power. Keely's labours would be better understood by those who accuse him of "always promising, and never performing," under such a conception. The inventor must be sanguine of success; he must day by day think that he is on the eve of perfecting his invention, in order to keep up his courage to persevere to the end; otherwise, how could he work, year after year, in the face of obstacle after obstacle that seems, each one, to be insurmountable? After Keely's imprisonment when, among the men who knew that he was incapable of fraud, there was one so incensed by Keely's repeated failures to perfect his engine that he had said he "hoped to live to see Keely rotting in a gutter," Mr. R. Harte wrote: "And now that it has been proved in a hundred ways and before thousands of persons competent to judge of the merits of Keely's claims, that he has really discovered previously unknown forces in nature, studied them, mastered some of their laws, and is perfecting researching apparatus that will make his discoveries of practical application in numerous ways - now that he has actually done this, how does the world treat him? Does Congress come forward with a grant to enable him to complete his marvelous work? Do men of science hail him as a great discoverer, or hold out the hand of fellowship? Do people do honour to the man whose sole entreaty to them will be to receive from his hands a gift a thousand times more precious to them than steam engine or dynamo? It is a literal fact that if Keely fell exhausted to-day, in the terrible struggle he has so long maintained, his failure to establish his claims would be received with a shout of malignant delight from nearly every lecture-hall, pulpit, counting-house and newspaper office in the so-called civilized world. The world has hardly ever recognized its benefactors until it has become time to raise a statue to their memory, 'in order to beautify the town.' Jealousy, stupidity, the malignity which is born of conscious inferiority, are at this moment putting in Keely's road every impediment which law and injustice can manufacture. Two hundred years ago he would have been burned, a century since he would have probably been mobbed to death; but thank God we are too civilized, too humane now to burn or mob to death those who make great discoveries, who wish to benefit their fellow men, or whose ideas are in advance of their age - we only break their hearts with slander, ridicule, and neglect, and when that fails to drive them to suicide, we bring to bear upon them the ponderous of the law, and heap upon them the 'peine forte et dure' of injunctions, and orders, and suits, to crush them out of a world they have had the impertinence to try to improve, and the folly to imagine they could save from suffering, without paying in their own persons the inevitable penalty. Had it not been for the obligations incurred by Keely, in accepting the aid of the Keely Motor Company - in other words, had scientists, instead of speculators, furnished him with the means necessary to carry on his work of evolution, the secrets which he has so carefully guarded would now have been public property, so little does he care personally for financial results. As it is, those who have witnessed his beautiful experiments in acoustic and sympathetic vibration were often too ignorant to comprehend their meaning, and, consequently, even after expressing gratification to him, went away from his workshop to denounce him as a Cagliostro; while others, competent to judge, have refused to witness the production of the ether, as Sir William Thomson and Lord Raleigh refused, when they were in America a few years since. The company here mentioned has been a thorn in the inventor's side ever since it was organized. It has been 'bulled and beared' by greedy speculators, in whose varying interests the American newspaper for years have been worked, the results of which the inventor has had to bear. For many years the Company has contributed nothing towards Keely's expenses or support, and in the opinion of many lawyers it is virtually dead. How far it is entitled to his gratitude may be gathered from the fact, as stated, that when Mr. Keely abandoned his old generator of etheric force, baffled in his attempts to wrest from nature one of her most carefully guarded secrets, harassed by his connection with the Keely Motor Company, some of the officers and stockholders of which had instituted law proceedings against him, which threatened him with the indignity of imprisonment, he destroyed many of his marvelous models, and determined that, if taken to prison, it should be his dead body and not himself.

"Those who argue, if Keely had really obtained knowledge which contributes towards making man master of the material world, that science would hail the glad tidings with great joy, know but little of modern science and its votaries. An Anglican bishop never ignored a dissenting preacher with more dignified grade than the professor of orthodox science ignores the heterodox genius who has the audacity to wander beyond the limitation which 'received opinion' has placed upon the possibilities of nature. The fact is that men of science have persistently ignored, and know absolutely nothing about, the great department of nature into which Keely penetrated years ago, and in which he has now made himself at home. Not long ago a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Major Ricard-Seaver, went to Philadelphia to convince himself as to the nature of Keely's discovery. He returned, saying that Keely was working with, and had the apparent command over forces, the nature, or even the very existence, of which was absolutely unknown to him, and, so far as he is aware, to modern science.

"Beyond disintegration lies dispersion, and Keely can just as easily disperse the atoms of matter as disintegrate its molecules. Disperse them into what? Well, - into ether, apparently; into the hypothetical substratum which modern scientists have postulated, and about whose nature they know absolutely nothing but what they invent themselves, but which to Keely is not hypothesis, but a fact as real as his own shoes; and which ether, indeed, seems to be 'the protoplasm of all things.' As to the 'law of gravity,' it appears in the light of Keely's experiments, but one manifestation of a law of very much wider application - a law which provides for the reversion of the process of attraction in the shape of a process of repulsion.

"While Major Ricarde-Seaver, F.R.S.,* was in Philadelphia, Keely, by means of a belt and certain appliances which he wore upon his person, moved single-handed, a 500 horse power vibratory engine from one part of his shop to another. There was not a scratch on the floor, and astounded engineers declared that they could not have moved it without a derrick, the operation of which would have required the removal of the roof of the shop. Of course it is but a step in advance of this to construct a machine which, when polarized with a 'negative attraction,' will rise from the earth and move under the influence of an etheric current at the rate of 500 miles an hour, in any given direction. This is, in fact, Keely's 'air-ship.'

"When the history of his discoveries and inventions come to be written there will be no more pathetic story in the annals of genius than of John Worrell Keely. The world hereafter will find it hard to believe that in the last quarter of the 19th century a man with an insight into the secret workings of nature, and a knowledge of her subtle forces, which, whenever it is utilized, will relieve mankind from much of the grinding toil that now makes bitter the existence of the vast majority, that such a man should have been left unaided, because in all the ranks of science there was not found one man capable of understanding his colossal work - because in all the ranks of religion there was not found one man able to realize the enlarged conception of Deity immanent in Keely's great thoughts - because in all the ranks of commerce, of speculation, of literature, of art, there was not found one man large enough, generous enough, unselfish enough, to furnish money for a purpose that did not promise an immediate dividend."

Again in 1888, more than ever was Keely held up to ridicule by all those men who possess the instinct of the brute to hound down its prey, and his supporters came in for their share of abuse. Among this class, or of it, were men so ignorant of Keely's claims, and of the object of his researches, that they represented him as "a seeker of the impossible," a "perpetual motion crank," throwing upon his character other odium which the speculating managers of "The Keely Motor Company" were justly responsible for. One of these communications alone is enough to show the quality of the weapons used against him. It appeared in The New York Daily Tribune.


A Donkey-Cabbage Race.

How Much Longer Will The Clever Juggler Be Able To Delude His Victims?

To the Editor of "The Tribune":

Sir, - The success with which Keely has deluded his victims by appealing to their credulity with a mystery, and to their cupidity with a promise of "all the kingdoms of the earth," which would not be of greater value than the monopoly of infinite power without cost, which he dangles before their astonished vision, makes him and his antics subjects of unusual interest. His last performance appears to be an issue of 5,000,000 dollars of new stock representing a new discovery veiled in mystery, which is to far outstrip his former one, on which 5,000,000 dollars of stock was issued and is now held by his dupes. Two of these new millions are to go to the old holders as a compensation to them for their disappointment in not realizing perpetual motion under the old discovery; two more to go to Keely to be sold to the public; and the remaining one million is in the treasury to be sold for the benefit of Keely and the others, half and half.

For fifteen years the donkey has been ridden by Keely with the cabbage on a pole held just in front of his hungry mouth, and now the donkey is told that the cabbage after all is only sham, but that the new cabbage is real, and if he will only consent to run fast enough and far enough he certainly will reach it and grow fat.

It would seem that the donkey ought to pause and consider before he being another fifteen-year race after perpetual motion, and it is here proposed to assist him in his reflection by a few facts. More than fifteen years ago Keely made himself known to the public by exhibiting an apparatus in which a great pressure was manifested, which, he said, resulted from the discovery by him of a new force the nature of which was his secret. Several people, as usual, were astonished at the show, and bought and paid for shares in the patent which was promised. To give colour to the pretence, Keely applied for a patent before 1876, but did not assign to the purchasers their shares; whereupon some of them protested against the issue of the patent unless their shares were recognized in the grant. The Patent Office replied to these protest that it could not recognize the rights claimed unless there was a written assignment filed in the office, which the claimants did not have. The Commissioner, however, called upon Keely to furnish a "working model" of his invention, which, of course, he could not do, and his application was rejected. The specification and drawings of this apparatus show a very silly form of the common perpetual motion machine, of which there are thousands. It was open to the public for some years, when, under a new rule of the office, it, along with all other rejected applications, was withdrawn from inspection; but it is in the office, together with the protests of those who had paid Keely for a share in it. I examined it years ago, and informed Mr. Lamson, and others of Keely's stockholders, of it. Mr. Lamson told me that he had charged Keely with deception, because he had always said that he never had applied for a patent, and that Keely explained it by saying that he had purposely concealed his invention from the Patent Office in that application to which he had made oath.

Keely, however, finding the perpetual motion trick, profitable, extended his operations and became well known to many influential people by his exhibitions. In the winter of 1875-76 he produced two metallic spheres, one about thirty inches in diameter, hung like an ordinary terrestrial globe, which, he said, would revolve with a force equal to two horse-power, and would continue to run when once started as long as the Centennial Exhibition should be open, and until the thing was worn out by friction. In starting it Keely used to have a blackboard in the room, on which he would write a few figures in chalk in the presence of his dupes, and would say that at a certain time the globe would start - and it did, and would revolve as long as the lookers on remained to see it. Keely pretended to explain this phenomenon by a string of unintelligible jargon; but the point of it all was that he said the thing ran in consequence of its internal mechanical arrangement - or, in other words, that by combining pieces of metal in a certain way power was generated without any other expense than that required to construct the apparatus. Naturally he refused to show the interior construction which did the miracle, but if his statements were true, it existed inside of that globe, and could be produced indefinitely with the result of producing an indefinite amount of horse-power without current expense. [See Dynasphere]

The stock about this time rose to a great price - about 600 per cent. - as it will might if this ball was an "honest ghost." Some of the stockholders had sense enough to see that if Keely's story were true, nothing more could be desired, for it must at once supersede coal and all other means of producing power, and its novelty could not be doubted. It was in effect, "all the kingdoms of the earth," which Satan once offered. But, on the other hand, if Keely's story were not true, then he was simply an impostor who had been defrauding the stockholders out of their money; and they demanded of Keely that he should proceed at once to patent this miraculous machine, which could create power by a peculiar - shaped hole in a sphere of iron. Of course Keely refused to comply with this reasonable request, and many of his stockholders sold out and left him; since which time the stock has gradually declined down to the present time, when its value is admitted to be nothing.

In view of these facts the curious question is why the donkey goes on any further. The revolving ball is a fact known to hundreds of the stockholders. It is either a real cabbage capable of feeding the donkey with a perpetual feast, like the widow's cruse of oil, or it is only a sham such as any good mechanic could construct and operate as Keely did. Why doesn't the donkey balk and insist on biting into the cabbage? If it is real the Keely stock is worth untold millions. It would put an end to steam engines and electric batteries for ever. One of those balls in the corner of a room would make all the heat and light which could be used, and have power to sell; and all that would be needed would be to learn Keely's cabalistic signs on the blackboard in order to make it start, and to stop it when it had done enough. But if the ball is only a trick, then, of course, Keely could be sent to prison, and his victims could close their accounts and be sure that they would lose no more by him.

Without going any farther into her history of this remarkable delusion, which is full of similar tricks too numerous to mention now, it seems clear that these facts ought to be used to bring to an end in one way or the other the Keely craze.

Edward N. Dickerson.
New York, Nov. 30, 1888.

It is difficult to understand how anyone could concoct and put together such a tissue of fabrications as this, when the sole foundation for such a tissue lay in the fact that it was at this juncture that Keely made the announcement that he had proved the uselessness of building engines to employ the ether as a motive power; which could be used as the medium for the power which he had discovered, namely, a condition of sympathetic vibration, associated both positively and negatively with the polar stream.

The statement made of the issue of new stock is absolutely untrue. The revolving globe was never created to be "the source of power," and the representation of the manner in which the globe was made to revolve, and that Keely affirmed he could produce with it "an indefinite amount of horse power without current expense," is denied. The suggestion that Keely could be sent to prison was welcomed by those who eventually acted upon it, with the result that Judge Finletter committed Keely to Moyamensing Prison, for contempt of court, but not for fraud. Mr. Keely, at that time, wrote of those who called him a perpetual motion seeker:-"I console myself by thinking that if they were not ignorant of the grand truths which I am devoting my life to develop into a system, they could never bring forward such an absurd charge. Perpetual motion is against nature, and it is only by following nature's laws that I can ever hope to reach the goal I am aiming to reach."

The Supreme Court reversed and set aside the order of the court committing Keely for contempt, and released him from custody, upon the writ of habeas corpus taken out on his behalf, within three days of his commitment.

The Chief Justice, in delivering his opinion, made some remarks which fully vindicated Mr. Keely's character. After alluding to the proper procedure which ought to have been taken in the court below, the Judge continued:-

"Instead of so proceeding, a commission of experts was appointed to examine the defendant's machine, and the order of April 7th was made, by which the defendant, in advance of any issue, was not only required to exhibit his machine, but also to operate it and explain the mode of its construction and operation, although it clearly appeared that it would require considerable expense to clean the machine, put it together and operate it. The defendant appears to have been willing to exhibit it, and in point of fact did so. That he might have been compelled to do so at a proper stage of the case is conceded. But to make an order not only to exhibit it but to operate it, the practical effect of which was to wring from him his defence in advance of any issue jointed, was an improvident and excessive exercise of Chancery powers. We are of opinion that the order was improvidently made. If follows that the learned court had no power to enforce it by attachment. The relator is discharged."
[See Was Keely Imprisoned for stock fraud?]

It was in this year, 1888, that a woman, interested in all branches of science, who had proved to her own satisfaction the value to humanity, as well as to science of Keely's discoveries, was deprived of legal and maternal rights on account of the delusions that she was very generally believed to be under. A journalist, wishing to obtain information concerning Keely's work called upon this woman, by appointment, and at the close of the interview said,-

"May I venture to ask you if it is true that you have furnished Mr. Keely with large sums of money as rumor declares; and that you have invested largely in the stock?"

"Were I not glad of the opportunity to answer this question in justice to Mr. Keely, I might have said that this is a subject which is of no interest to the public; but I have heard the amount estimated as nearly 100,000 too often not to be willing to have the truth made known. What I have given to Mr. Keely has been saved by economies in my expenses; and, if not given to him would have been given to others; as I believe in those who have the most doing all that lies in their power for those who have less. In regard to investments in Keely Motor stock, I have bought no stock excepting to give away."

"There is one other question, I should like to ask you," said our representative, "Is Mr. Keely a spiritualist? I use the word in its ordinary sense. Does he claim that he has bridged the gulf between the finite and the infinite?"

"When Mr. Keely first commenced his wonderful investigations he would have scouted the idea of being in any way whatever associated with so-called spiritualism, but of recent years, and specially during the last few months, he has made such startling progress that he now admits - as I told him a long time ago he would come to admit - that if not in actual experiment, at least in theory he has passed into the world of spirit."

The interview being ended, our representative took his departure, after expressing his thanks for the information so willingly given. How far this lady's anticipations of the inventor's success will be realized, or how far her confidence in his integrity is justified, we must leave our readers to judge for themselves. The whole subject is enveloped in much mystery, but it is full of interest, and if half that is narrated of Mr. Keely be true, he is indeed a wonderful man! - [The Tatler].

See Also

Keely and His Discoveries
Keely Chronology
Law Suit
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